The Economics of OnlyFans and Pornography

Published on 11 January 2021 at 14:06

A revolution in Sex Work is underway and is being primarily pioneered by one particular application - OnlyFans. Like most corporations, this platform follows the laws of supply & demand. In every aspect, it can be considered a marketplace with actors, buyers, sellers, and market trends. 


Looking at OnlyFans and the distribution of pornography, there are some rules about how this marketplace operates. In the case of OnlyFans, the market place is legitimate; However, it still falls under the category, known as a vice economy


 Vice markets  lack legalities or have social, and cultural implications. The vice market reality means that individuals use the Vice Market as an escape from reality. Often these vice markets make consumers feel 'good,' and that good feeling' can be found in the vice economy and can indeed cause harm to others. 


The harsh reality is vices do not have to be legal in a nation or marketplace they thrive on value creation and value chains. Add to this that we are living through the 4th Industrial revolution as we create data footprints and a vast web-based economy. Inevitably this has created market opportunities, 


Enter 'OnlyFans.'


OnlyFans is a subscription-based platform where creators charge a fee in exchange for pornographic related material. It operates on an 80/20 basis, where creators get 80% of their income and Onlyfans takes 20%.  Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Onlyfans saw 60,000 new profiles. In May of 2020, OnlyFans paid out $725 million to 450,000 creators. In August, actor Belle Throne broke subscription records, earning $1 Million in just 24 hours.  


However, there have been numerous reports of misconduct by users, going as far to include the blackmail of content creators in addition to cyber-stalking, and other unsavoury behaviours. Legislation in Ireland has recently been implemented to protect those subject to this abuse. Read here.


There are also economic risks associated with OnlyFans. With it being an unstable market place, creator's income may vary dramatically from month to month, and must compete in order to maintain and grow their level of subscriptions. Recent data leaks from OnlyFans put its creators at further risk, and with almost no regulation, it is not subject to scrutiny from governing parties, but rather to the market place instead. This  in turn lends itself to an unstable platform for content creators. 


Consumers in the marketplace  are constantly holding large corporations like Amazon, Google or Facebook to account based on their ethics.  Corporations are beginning to understand, that in order to remain competitive, they must strive to improve their ethics as well as their profits. It might be time that OnlyFans follow suit.


If you or anyone you know has been affected by the issues discussed in this article, below are support services to reach out to. 



Women’s Aid: 1800 341 900


Pieta House: 1800 247 247


Turn2me: 01116123


Rape Crisis Centre: 1800 77 88 88


Grow: 1890 474 474


Aoibhneas: 01 867 0701

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